Red Beans with Salchichon and Potato

  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 ounces salchichon or pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • One 8-ounce can Spanish-style tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
  • One large Idaho potato (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

Makes about 12 buffet servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours, largely unattended
Put the beans in a heavy 3 to 4-quart pot. Pour in enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering. Skim the foam that rises to the top. Cook until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Check occasionally and make sure the level of water never dips below the top of the beans. If it gets close, simply top up with a little water. The beans can be cooked up to 3 hours in advance and kept at room temperature (in fact, I like them better this way.)

Cut the salchicon in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼-inch slices.   Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salchichon and cook, stirring, just until fragrant and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and cloves and stir well. Pour in the tomato sauce and broth and bring to a boil. Scrape the sausage mixture into the pot of beans. Add   the potato and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes. The beans can be prepared completely up to two days before serving. (They’re even creamier and more delicious if they are made ahead.) Reheat them over gentle heat, adding a small amount of water if necessary to return them to their original silkiness.

Note: Salchichon can mean different things to different people. The type of salchicon I like to use for this recipe is about the size and shape of a plump supermarket stick of pepperoni. The texture is similar to Genoa salami and the flavor is somewhere between Genoa and good pepperoni. Salchichon is available in Latin markets and through online sources. If you cannot find salchichon, substitute a good quality Italian pepperoni.

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